WLAN design tool now works with 11n access points

Motorola releases LANPlanner

Motorola has updated its wireless LAN predictive planning tool to work with 802.11n high throughput access points.

With the release of LANPlanner, network managers can import a building diagram from a program like AutoCAD, assign radio frequency propagation features to various materials used in floors and walls, and drag in icons representing 11n access points. LANPlanner generates data and images that show the expected radio coverage and throughput.

Like other WLAN vendors, Motorola is aggressively marketing 11n equipment, which promises 300Mbps data rates per radio, and 150Mbps throughput, as well as more robust and reliable signals. In March, Motorola unveiled a two-radio 11n access point that can create a wireless indoor mesh.

One key feature is the Network Migration Wizard, which walks a network planner through likely 11n deployment scenarios: a "greenfield" WLAN, a replacement for an existing WLAN, or a mixed 11n/11abg network. With the new wizard, managers can see their existing performance and coverage, and then see how it will change as you replace some or all of the existing access points with 11n gear.

LANPlanner is a Microsoft Windows application, originally created by Wireless Valley Communications, which Motorola acquired in late 2005. The application can import live WLAN performance data from Motorola's companion SiteScanner application. Network designers can use LANPlanner to map out the initial network deployment, then fine tune the designed based on SiteScanner's detailed live data.

Motorola's tests have shown that in some environments, 11n performance can degrade much faster and further than 11abg, and this kind of behavior can be captured and visualized with the new LANPlanner version.

The reason for the fall-off, says Karen Weir, product manager with Motorola's Wireless Broadband Group, is that 11n's multiple antenna technology exploits what had been a problem for 11abg networks: radio signals being bounced around and reflected off numerous surfaces. In open environments, or long corridors, for example, this "multipath" phenomenon is much weaker, and 11n performance can fall off quickly, she says.

The 11n version of LANPLanner will be available at the end of August. Pricing for a single license is unchanged at $7,500 for Motorola's VARs and systems integrators. In 2007, the application also was integrated with Motorola's RF Management Suite.

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